Sikkim born Prajwal Parajuly’s debut short stories book The Gurkha’s Daughter: Stories which is being tipped as the “next big thing in South Asian literature” is scheduled for publication in December 2012 (Penguin Books India will represent Prajwal when his books are published in India). 26 year old Parajuly got international attention after Steig Larson trilogy publisher Quercus Publishing House paid him for a five-figure advance in a two-book deal. He is the youngest writer at Quercus to sign such a deal. The Gurkha’s Daughter: Stories chronicles the lives of Nepali-speaking people the world over.
Still a student of a creative writing course at Kellogs College, Oxford University, the young author’s short story success, at a time when not many publishers are gaga about publishing short stories, says a lot about his abilities.
In a recent interview to The Hindu Prajwal gave the credit for his being a writer to his English teachers in school and to Professor Evelyn Carlson his teacher at the Truman State University, in Kirksville, Missouri, where he was an undergrad.
After working as an advertising executive at The Village Voice for some time, Prajwal quit the job and travelled the length and breadth of India. It was then that Prajwal started writing inspired by his travel mate and college friend who had started blogging to keep in touch with his family back home.
Parts of his upcoming book was written in a Manali guesthouse, a good portion at home and the rest during his first year at Oxford.
About the plot of the book Prajwal says, that being a Nepali-speaking Indian his stories mostly deal with people like him, their problems, and their quest for an identity. He said, “My mother is from Nepal, so I have a story or two based there. Sometimes, as it happened in the case of my father and mother, people of the two worlds come together and a story is born. I also write about things that affect me; like Bhutan, the most beautiful country in the world, performing the most heinous, ruthless acts. You need to go to the Bhutanese refugee camps in Nepal to see what the country has done to its people. Some say it’s the Nepali-speaking Bhutanese people’s fault for having triggered protests galore in the country. If that’s the case, you discipline them, perhaps jail them. You don’t herd them out of their country and forget about them. It’s a big problem, the effects of which will reverberate for years to come.”
Talking about the challenges of writing the first book, Prajwal says that he was ignorant of the market when he wrote the book and may have not even attempted writing one if he would have known about the step-daughterly treatment meted out of short-story collections. About the writing part he says, “I’d work for 17-hour stretches for two or three days and do nothing for weeks. It was very unhealthy. My sleep pattern was a mess. It still is.”
The catapult to stardom has been “insane”, to quote Prajwal’s own words. “We knew that the book deal would create a buzz, but no one would have anticipated the fervour that the acquisition of the books by Quercus provoked. It helps that I am from India. It helps that I am a student. “Student gets a book deal” is a story that touches people’s hearts…..There are lingering moments of nervousness. What if the writing doesn’t live up to the hype? What if the books disappoint critics?….I have realised a good way not to be affected by your sudden fame is not to take it seriously at all. Laugh about everything. …..I am trying to learn to enjoy it while simultaneously not being affected by it.”
(Sourced from “The Hindu“)